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KIDS COUNT 2011: Tracking Child Well-Being in the United States

By Valorie Hanni Rice

On August 17, 2011, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2011 edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book, which they have published annually since 1990. KIDS COUNT is intended to provide policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being for each state allowing for comparisons to be made over time, as well as, between states regarding the condition of children. Ten key indicators are used to rank the states: percent of low-birth weight babies; infant mortality rate; child death rate; teen death rate; teen birth rate; percent of teens not in school and not high school graduates; percent of teens not attending school and not working; percent of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment; percent of children in poverty; and percent of children in single-parent families. Data used in the 2011 report are from 2007, 2008 or 2009.

New Hampshire ranked the highest in terms of overall child well-being, and has held the top place ten of the last eleven years while Minnesota has ranked second, trading places with New Hampshire once. On the other end of the scale, Mississippi has been at the bottom of the rankings that whole time followed closely by Louisiana. Arizona remains in the bottom third of states with an overall rank of 37, which is a slight improvement over recent years during which the state ranked 39th and 40th. This improvement in the ranking is thanks to declines in the teen birthrate and in the number of high school dropouts since 2000; even so, Arizona still ranks near the bottom of the states for these two indicators. Arizona has also shown improvement in the child death rate, going from 26 deaths per 100,000 children age 1-14 in 2000 to 21 in 2007. This is still higher than the national rate of 19.

Arizona has improved in three measures as compared with 2000 (described above) while the nation showed improvement in five of the eight indicators which allow historical comparison. As a state, Arizona does relatively well in terms of percent of low-birth weight babies, with 7.1 percent low weight compared to 8.2 percent nationally. That is the only measure in which Arizona out performs the nation as a whole.

To find more data regarding the condition of children in Arizona at state and local levels, go to the Kids Count Data Center.

kids count summary table

For additional information, please contact the Economic and Business Research Center.